Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Moviegoer by Walker Percy

Walker Percy

Walker Percy was added to my list of authors to investigate by way of my Grand Southern Literary Tour. He and Shelby Foote were life-long friends and grew up together in Greenville, Miss. 

Percy's grandfather and grandfather both committed suicide. His mother was killed in an automobile accident and Percy suspected it was suicide as well. He was raised as agnostic but in later life converted to Catholicism.

With both his parents dead, he and his two brothers moved to Greenville when he was 13 to live with a second cousin. That is where he met Foote. The two went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill together and Percy went on to receive a medical degree from Columbia in New York City.

He and Foote once went to pay homage to William Faulkner in Oxford, Miss. The story goes that Percy was too in awe of Faulkner to actually talk to him. He sat in the car while his friend and Faulkner chatted on the porch of Rowan Oak

When Percy's first novel came up as a Kindle Deal of the Day I snapped it up at $1.99. The Moviegoer (1961) won the National Book Award and, as Percy described it, is the story of "a young man who had all the advantages of a cultivated old-line southern family, a feel for science and art, a liking for girls, sports cars, and the ordinary things of the culture, but who nevertheless feels quite alienated from both worlds, the old South and the new America."

I don't know how I feel about reading about an alienated young man but I am willing to give Mr. Percy a try. Here is the opening paragraph:

This morning I got a note from my aunt asking me to come for lunch. I know what this means. Since I go there every Sunday for dinner and today is Wednesday, it can mean only one thing: she wants to have one of her serious talks. It will be extremely grave, either a piece of bad news about her stepdaughter Kate or else a serious talk about me, about the future and what I ought to do. It is enough to scare the wits out of anyone, yet I confess I do not find the prospect altogether unpleasant. 

Based on those lines, I don't find the prospect of reading The Moviegoer altogether unpleasant either.


  1. What sad beginnings for a young lad before he turned 13.
    I was immediately drawn in by that opening paragraph, Belle. I'll be interested in hearing how well the book goes.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I liked the voice of the narrator, Binx Bolling, right away. From what I have read about 'The Moviegoer' Binx finds more meaning in books and movies than his ordinary life. Hmmmm.